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McGuigan reveals Haye comeback was a year in the making

Trainer backs former champ to ‘do some damage’ in heavyweight division.

SHANE McGUIGAN HAS revealed that David Haye’s planned comeback was a year in the making as the Londoner gets set for his ring return in January.

McGuigan, son of former world champion and Irish boxing legend Barry, will be in Haye’s corner when he makes his return Mark de Mori after a three-and-a-half year absence on 16 January at London’s O2 Arena.

Haye confirmed his plans on Tuesday morning with the 35-year-old set to fight for the first time since his 2012 win over Dereck Chisora. He subsequently pulled out of two fight dates against Tyson Fury, who challenges Wladimir Klitschko for the world title this weekend, and a scheduled clash against Manuel Charr, with Haye blaming injury for those withdrawals.

McGuigan, who trains Belfast’s world super-bantamweight champion Carl Frampton, claimed Haye was in no state to make a ring return when they first discussed the idea 11 months ago but the former two-weight world champion has since been working on getting back to full fitness.

“I spoke to him last Christmas Eve, he had me around at his house. I spent about five hours there and at the time he was not fit to fight and not even fit to train,” revealed McGuigan.

“He had a few things to get sorted with his body and that, and he asked me to train him about two months ago after finishing some rehab stuff and I accepted.”

Carl Frampton celebrates defeating Hugo Cazares with Shane and Barry McGuigan 4/4/2014 Shane McGuigan (left) with Carl Frampton and the trainer's father and ring legend, Barry, (right). Source: William Cherry

The link-up between the pair also marks the end of Haye’s long-standing relationship with his old trainer Adam Booth, who works the corner of Ireland’s other professional world champion Andy Lee.

Booth helped Haye to unify world titles at cruiserweight before he claimed the WBA version of the heavyweight title, and McGuigan admitted that he was saddened to see the pair split despite taking up his role in the 35-year-old’s corner.

“I’m a massive fan of Adam Booth and it’s definitely a bit of a shame that he split with Adam. It’d almost be like myself and Carl splitting,” said McGuigan, referring to his close relationship with Frampton.

Haye may be eager to push for a shot at the winner of this weekend’s bout between Klitschko and Fury, but his critics will question whether the ageing Londoner can rebuild towards a world-title shot having had only one bout since his one-sided 2011 loss to Klitschko.

De Mori is a questionable choice of opponent for a fighter aiming to return to world level, with the Aussie’s uninspiring 30-1-2 record containing few names of note other than Samoan Alex Lepai, who also unsuccessfully challenged Klitschko.

However, McGuigan is relishing the challenge of helping Haye revive his career in an effort to return to his past heights.

“I’m up against it in the sense that he’s a 35-year-old man, former two-weight world champion who unified the cruiserweight division, so I’m definitely up against it,” said the 26-year-old trainer. “But he’s got plenty left and I genuinely believe he can do some some serious damage in the heavyweight division,” added McGuigan.

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Ciarán Gallagher

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